In the next few years there are likely to be a growing number of people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, older people and those with a disability in the workplace. This visible diversity can be a source of significant strength and intelligence for organisations, but it also brings with it a number of challenges that affect the individual member of staff as well as the employee.
The goal of creating an inclusive workplace where we all feel valued, appreciated and significant can look daunting at first. The challenges and solutions impact upon each of us in a variety of different ways. For organisations, the challenges might be around ensuring they have the right policies, processes, procedures and systems operating to ensure that jobs go to the best people from the broadest social base – and they are able to perform at their highest level of capability.
The responsibility for individuals within the organisation is equally as important, and this is where ‘diversity champions’ are critical, because they can push for achieving equality of opportunity and valuing diversity. Diversity champions are those people who have decided to take personal responsibility for their behaviour; they have challenged themselves to demonstrate excellence in their approach to valuing diversity and implementing equality of opportunity.
Nurses are natural diversity champions
Our proximity to patients and their care, as well as the core values of nursing, means nurses and health care assistants are natural diversity and equality champions. The way in which we behave towards others has the potential to make an enormous impact on those we work with. Being prepared to moderate or change our behaviour appropriately in response to considered feedback from others is an important characteristic of successful RCN diversity champions.
RCN diversity champions actively support the broad diversity agenda within their organisation. They seek to ensure that their organisation works to develop and maintain good practice around valuing diversity and implementing equality of opportunity. On a personal level, diversity champions ensure that their behaviours and decisions are not prejudiced or biased. They actively seek feedback from others to ensure that their personal behaviours are consistent with interacting positively. Diversity champions consistently make an effort to increase their knowledge about diversity and equality issues.
“It’s not about knowing all the answers or having great expertise – it’s more about questioning and challenging organisations and individuals to demonstrate that valuing diversity lies at the heart of what they do” said Alan Mawbey, RCN diversity champion.
Role of a diversity champion
Diversity champions act as leaders for diversity and equality.They act as role models, taking actions when appropriate and addressing behaviours when necessary. They ask questions to check that diversity in its broadest sense is being recognised, understood and considered as integral to the decision making and evaluation processes. A good diversity champion doesn’t need to know all the answers but needs to be prepared to spend some time developing their own personal competencies around diversity and equality issues.
Diversity champions should:
- Recognise that diversity and equality are intrinsic to the success and performance of their own organisation.
- Treat others with dignity and respect.
- Challenge and overcome obstacles in mainstreaming diversity and equality issues.
- Create a positive work environment.
- Place a high value on diversity and fairness.
- Remove any barriers that may impede progress around diversity and equality issues.
- Actively support efforts to make the work environment and his/her respective organisation inclusive.
- Make an effort to regularly communicate the benefits of diversity and the organisation’s successes within that agenda.
Email email@example.com for more information on becoming an RCN diversity champion.